2015-09-09

What’s The Point? The Real Reason Scientists Study Space

Check out this excerpt from SEDS-USA Chair Hannah Kerner’s latest op ed — read the full article on Space.com!

As space scientists, we’re forced to explain how our work translates to people’s daily lives, how we’re helping them directly. In answering the question, “What’s the point?”, in converting the meaning of our work to units of impact on the average citizen, we are forced to dilute that meaning. In answering this question, we claim to be trying to put it “in layman’s terms,” but rather than teaching and fostering understanding, we are mutilating our work into some sort of “spin-off” explanation that feels like a lie. 

The right answer is that thinking about problems on scales like the astronomical is good. It is fundamentally worthwhile for humans to push the boundaries of their understanding, to convert the unknown into the known through the power of scientific inquiry. 

Rather than “What’s the point?” the question should be, “What does thinking about and understanding these problems mean for humans and for the evolution of humanity as a part of the universe?”


 

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